“To build up a library
is to create a life.”
~Carlos María Domínguez
I was a remedial reader all through elementary school. My mother hates when I tell that to people but it is the truth. For me, the library was horrifying. In fact, whenever I went to the school nurse, my mother would ask if it was “library time.” It always was.
I did not hate the library in the traditional sense; I hated the librarian. I don’t recall her name although her image is imprinted in my brain in the same category as other childhood fears. She was old, maybe 162, but I could be exaggerating; her hair was pulled back in a tight bun (maybe); and, I’m sure she had reading glasses that hung on the tip of her nose… well, I don’t really remember what she looked like. By “image” I mean the way she made me feel… which was awful.
I was a quiet, anxious child who cried when the school bus driver was sick and there was a substitute. I’ve grown into an anxious adult who cries whenever there is change. I never learned how to resolve such things even in therapy. This is me. This is who I am; or, this is who I have become.
The librarian yelled at children. While I was/am a rule follower who rarely goes against regulations, even when other kids were fussed at, I would cry; and, when I cried, I was seen. Being seen by the librarian was never good. She “shhhh”ed children; she hated her books being out of place. Gosh, I honestly don’t recall why she was so evil and I don’t want to call my mom to ask for her version of the story.
My parents always worried about me. They tried their best but as members of the Silent generation, they were programed not speak up. Teachers and librarians were authority figures to be trusted and respected.
|Bad-ass bunny ears from Leg Avenue|
What I do know is that I missed out on so many books. This has come to my attention recently because our university theater department’s fall play is Bunnicula, which has inspired us in the English Department to throw a Bunnicula party because that’s what you do when you work in the nerdiest/coolest department on campus. This week I have been putting together my outfit since I have decided to be inspired by the story, and not dress in a bunny costume. While my peers and I are all aflutter with preparations, there is a great deal of talk about the first time everyone read Bunnicula.
Published in 1979, I should have read this book when it was originally released. That is the year I started school. I have no way of knowing if our tiny rural, public school library (there wasn’t and still isn’t a public library in that county) even owned the book. I never checked out books; I avoided them because of the mean librarian. I was pulled out of classes to work with a remedial reading teacher; she became one of my favorite humans ever but that’s a whole other story.
While my peers have fond memories of reading about the dog-narrator Harold and the mysterious bunny with the sharp teeth and odd eating habits, I didn’t read the book until I was an adult.
My fella and I discuss the books we missed in youth, and how when you read them as adults through adult eyes, it’s never quite the same as someone who grew up loving them. I sometimes wonder if my academic focus on adolescent literature is because it is a way of taking back my childhood reading days.
Whatever the reason, I treated myself to the Bunnicula in a Box set. Before our party in three weeks, I will read all of the books in the collection, not just the first book.
I love the quote. I will be building up my library to continue creating my life for myself until the very end of my days. One can never have too many piles of to-be-read books.